Troy has a lot of ambassadors of which I am one -- impassioned citizens looking out for the city’s best interests, helping to spur its renaissance and growth.We wear the hat proudly and take the unofficial title seriously. Overtime, the job has born lots of excitement, although this year, it seemed to be fraught with frustration.
Someone once said to me that what you expect to happen in two years often falls short but what happens in 10 years is exponentially greater than what you imagined. This may have something to do with Moore’s Law; after all I’m surrounded by RPI engineers. Regardless of its origins, this same principle can be applied to Troy’s resurgence.
Look at all that’s going on:
ALL of the cities enormous factory buildings aligning the Hudson River were purchased by top developers - not only from the region but also from Boston, St. Louis, NYC and elsewhere. These historical structures are being transformed into beautiful loft apartments, galleries, offices and retail spaces.
Restaurants, bars and pubs are drawing people from around the Capital region and beyond. Peck’s Arcade, Troy’s most impressive bistro was listed as one of the nation’s top restaurants by OpenTable. The much talked about Troy Kitchen, a foodie-to-restaurateur incubator has already spun off three new restaurants in town.
Software developers and other tech companies like Apprenda, KW Engineering, GreyCastle Security and Vital Vio are magnets for venture capital, quality talent and national news coverage.
Video Gaming studios like Warner Brothers, 1st Playable Productions (with Disney as one of its biggest clients) and the Bala brothers (founders of Vicarious Vision now owned by Activision) have turned Troy into a growing video gaming hub.
Hotels are popping up like the Marriot and TruHilton to provide facilities and accommodations for the ever increasing corporate and college training events and conferences. The longstanding Best Western is booked to capacity and has expanded to provide suites for their elegant Franklin Plaza weddings and rooftop soirees.
Increasing events, memberships, PR successes coming out of the Tech Valley Center of Gravity, the Innovation Garage, Startup Tech Valley, IgniteU NY and newly found artist communities springing up in once underappreciated neighborhoods.
Cruise ships from NYC, Canada and the Cape are bringing hundreds of leaf peepers up the Hudson for autumn weekends in Troy. While crews from the region’s high schools and colleges practice their rowing and compete in races along the shores.
Associations and nonprofits like TAP, TRIP, Alliance for Better Health (with all the region hospital CEOs as board members) ensure that Troy’s heart continues to support diversity, the underprivileged and enrich the community, parks and waterfront.
2017 a year of inertia?
Inertia is defined as a state of rest, a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged unless an external force changes that state. In 2017, it felt as though the city was caught in a wheel-spin.
Keep in mind that Troy’s renaissance has come about organically. The little guy with a vision that rolled up his or her sleeves figured out how to get it done and did it – often against many odds and uncertainties. Pockets of these people have sprung up around the city and have been the drivers of change. They weren’t looking to take advantage of a growing force; they created it.
In the last year, however, Troy’s spotlight seemed to have brought out the opportunists, dreamers and naysayers. Successes were overshadowed by lack of parking, cracked sidewalks, empty lots and a cinema that wasn’t-to-be. Critics condemned others for their efforts while doing nothing themselves. People dreamt of starting businesses with little experience and no capital. 2017 was marred by tire-kickers.
The year ahead is already a different story.
While it may have appeared that things were slowing down, key people have been behind the scenes planning enduring impact to the city. The approaching years are already geared up and turbocharged. This month, Governor Cuomo announced a $4 million grant to spruce up the most prominent buildings in city center. Local government is also judicially vetting projects and providing pilots to ensure their success.
Soon the new CDTA Rapid Transit Center will be built enabling 3,900 daily arrivals and departures. Uncle Sam Parking Garage and the Atrium eyesores will be designed to be more purposeful, up-to-date structures. The Troy-centric Creative Economy with the abundant artists, performers, writers, designers, architects, marketing firms, filmmakers, the list goes on are coming together with finances to support new focus.
The old Troy Record newspaper plant has gone through an extreme makeover and is set to open next year with 100 luxury apartments and a dedicated parking garage, as well as 10,000 square feet in modern retail spaces. All the while, the brownfield clean up on Starbuck Island is underway and being readied for a $60 million housing development complete with marina, amphitheater and river walkway.
Tech Valley Game Space, Velan Ventures, RPI video gamers and others are collaborating and creating new studios, projects and planning large scale tournaments.
Specialty boutiques and hipster hangouts are popping up to entice the many pedestrians gracing Troy’s festivals. Events like the widely revered year round Saturday Farmers Market, summertime Rockin’ on the River, Pigout, RiverFest, and popular holiday Victorian Stroll, to name a few, have seen an increase in attendees from mere thousands to tens-of-thousands.
It’s no wonder that Troy was honored as the best small city in the Capital region to start a business, 5th in New York State and 78th in the nation . The Albany region, with Troy’s RPI as a large contributor was also ranked 3rd in the nation as the best place to find a tech job - just after Silicon Valley.
Troy’s climate in 2017 may have seemed like a setback to some, but to Trojans, the City is at the precipice of great change. 2018 isn’t about a glass being half full or half empty. It’s about looking at the empty space, the opportunity and filling the glass the rest of the way.
Deanna Dal Pos is a commercial real estate agent with NAI Platform and one of Troy’s biggest advocates. She lives in the heart of the city and is passionate about its urban renewal. For more information, go to this economic development website and resource on all-things-Troy: www.TroyCommercialRealEstate.com. Also, please follow her Twitter, Instagram accounts and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TroyCommercialRealEstate.